…Paloma, Volta & Kempinski hotels lead the way
By Cecil MENSAH
The intent of the Central bank to curb the ‘Dollarization’ of the economy and save the falling Cedi from nose diving has hit a snag as hoteliers are back with displaying their rates in the dollar denomination.
Business Day investigations have uncovered that some hoteliers in the hospitality industry have reverted to the pricing of rates in the US Dollar instead of the Ghana Cedi.
Ironically, ministries, departments and agencies which patronise some of these facilities are also believed to be making payments in dollars.
The BoG in 2014 under the leadership of the then Governor Henry Kofi Wampah gave directives that prevented the hoteliers and other service providers from using foreign currencies in the pricing of their rates.
At the time, the BoG went as far as basically banning over-the-counter withdrawal of dollars, except for travel purposes. It would be recalled that in a “Notice to Banks and General Public” dated 4th February, 2014, BoG directed that “upon receipt of export proceeds the bank shall within 5 working days convert the proceeds into Ghana cedis based on the average interbank Foreign Exchange Rate prevailing on the day of conversion…”
The then President John Dramani Mahama commented as follows in his “State of the Nation” address to Parliament on February 25, 2014: “Hotel room rates, vehicles, rents, school fees, household appliances, consumer items, cosmetics, clothes and other items were all quoted in dollars.”
Consequently, he pointed out that “The obvious problem with this is that the dollar is not our national currency.”
Three years down the line, Business Day can prove that business is back to normal in the sector when it comes to the pricing of hotel facilities such as accommodation, conferencing and luxury in foreign currency.
It is however, unclear whether the BoG under the leadership of the new governor, Dr Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison will look on for the situation to prevail at a time when the Cedi is set to gain some strength against the dollar.
Hotel facilities like Maxlot and Paloma on the Ring Road of Accra, one of the central business areas in the Greater Accra Metropolis, have been caught by the investigative team of Business Day pricing in dollars.
A pro-foma invoice in the possession of the Business Day emanating from Paloma Hotel had prices blatantly quoted in dollars for accommodation and conference facilities.
As of last week, Maxlot was charging 120 dollars for a standard accommodation whilst Paloma was offering 95 dollars for a standard room as part of its promotions for the Easter festivities.
Erata Hotel at the plush East Legon area is not behaving differently as far as pricing in the dollar denominations is concerned, with room rates ranging upwards of 110 dollars per night.
In the Business Day’s surveillance on the top class hotels operating in the country, it came to the fore that Sun Lodge Hotel at Tesano along the John Agyekum Kufour Highway had its price quoted in the Ghana Cedi.
Also, Mac-Dic Hotel and Capital View Hotel, both in Koforidua in the Eastern Region, charge rates in Cedis.
On the other hand, the Volta River Authority-owned Volta Hotel at Akosombo charges rate in dollars, with a standard room costing $ 450.00. Others in the Eastern Region charing dollars include St. James Hotel-$58; Volta Safari and Rest House charge $75 a night; Mount Vista Lodge charges $285 and Aseda River Resort charges $270.
Interestingly, reports say the likes of Movenpic Ambassador Hotel; Kempinski Hotel, partly owned by the embattled national chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party Paul Afoko, all quote rate in dollars.
Accra City Hotel formerly Novotel , Golden Tulip Hotels, La Palm Royal, La Beach Hotel, M-plaza, Best Western, Airport View, Regency Hotel, GS Plaza, Alisa Hotel, Fiesta Royale, Coconut Groove, Royal Nick Hotel in Tema are also on the list of dollar-taking facilities.
Elsewhere, Petit Palais Charming Boutique Hotel in Takoradi, Western Region and Georgia Hotel and Asantewaa Premier Guest House in the Ashanti Region charge dollars too.
Many of these hotels have their water, food and beverages priced in dollars; to the extent that it is displayed at the front desk for visitors and patrons.
Analysts say the BoG’s decision to ensure financial stability and safeguard the further fall of the Cedi is being spat on by the hoteliers.
Whereas, the low class hotels offering services like accommodation and lodging are adhering to the directives, the big players in the sector are behaving otherwise.
Reports have it that hotels operating in areas well noted for mining activities in the Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions are suffering from the dollarization syndrome because of the presence of Chinese nationals.